Archive for November 19, 2015

TERRORISM/REFUGEES: U.S. House Seeks to Block Syrian Refugees; Similar U.S. Concerns in 1939

House Defies Veto Threat.

(Photo: Statue of Liberty National Monument Facebook page)

(Photo: Statue of Liberty National Monument Facebook page)

In the wake of the terrorist attacks in Paris last week, the U.S. House of Representatives passed Republican-backed legislation Thursday (November 19) to block plans to admit thousands of Syrian refugees into the United States.

By an overwhelming 289-to-137 vote, the House voted to suspend President Obama’s program to admit 10,000 Syrian refugees in the next year. The measure, which 47 of the 188 Democrats voted for, would also intensify the process for screening refugees, according to Reuters.

The measure was quickly drafted this week following the Islamic State attacks that killed 129 people. It would require that high-level officials – the FBI director, the director of national intelligence and the secretary of Homeland Security – verify that each Syrian refugee poses no security risk. After the House vote, U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch called such screening both impractical and impossible.

Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan said the bill would pause the program the White House announced in September. Ryan said it was important to act quickly “when our national security is at stake.” Some Republicans have said some refugees could be militants bent on attacking the United States, noting reports that at least one Paris attacker may have slipped into Europe among migrants registered in Greece.

The White House has threatened a presidential veto if the bill is passed by the Senate — which remains an uncertainty at this time. Republican leaders in Congress are threatening to include the restrictions in a must-pass spending bill to keep the federal government running past December 11, raising the specter of another government shutdown, the Los Angeles Times reported.
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Deja Vue All Over Again?

The plaque with the poem evoking the spirit of the Statue of Liberty (via wikipedia)

The plaque on Liberty Island with the poem evoking the spirit of the Statue of Liberty  (via wikipedia)

Calls by some Republican presidential candidates and the governors — mostly Republican — of more than 30 states to block the admission of 10,000 Syrian refugees into the United States, harks back to a similar sentiment in America just months before the beginning of World War II.

The Washington Post and other media sites have reminded readers about opinion polls taken in 1939 that showed Americans overwhelmingly opposed settling refugees from Hitler’s Europe in the United States. Upon hearing about this opposition, your 4GWAR editor was reminded of Doris Kearns Goodwin’s book about the Franklin Roosevelt White House during the war years “No Ordinary Time.” In it she noted that some U.S. State Department officials opposed allowing European refugees into the country for fear that some might be Nazi double agents merely pretending to flee Hitler.

An article in the New York Times Thursday (November 19) asked: How apt is the comparison between Syrians today and German Jews before World War II and what can and cannot be learned from it? 

Some historians say that, while the two groups are not completely symmetrical, there are lessons to be drawn. Republican leaders and some Democrats have sought to halt the Syrian refugee program, fearing fighters from the Islamic State could be among the 10,000 migrants allowed to enter the country. “We cannot allow terrorists to take advantage of our compassion,” Speaker Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin said. “This is a moment where it is better to be safe than to be sorry.”

In 1938, Jews sought to escape Nazi Germany at a time when the United States was struggling through the Great Depression, and Americans expressed similar concern over accepting refugees, the piece  noted. “I don’t think it would meet the part of wisdom,” said Senator Gerald P. Nye of North Dakota, according to the Nov. 5, 1938 edition of The New York Times. “Our conditions here at home prohibit accepting an influx of population.”

The words of the poem “The New Colossus” by Emma Lazarus on the plaque above:

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.

“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

(via wikipedia)

November 19, 2015 at 11:58 pm Leave a comment

TERRORISM: UPDATE 11-19-2015 — Paris Attack Ringleader Killed; ISIS Threatens New York and Washington; Hollande’s Promise; French Parliament Extends State of Emergency

Paris Attacks Update.

UPDATES WITH FRENCH AUTHORITIES CONFIRMING ATTACK RINGLEADER WAS KILLED IN WEDNESDAY RAID … French govt. calls for European plan to reinforce, consolidate borders. 

Paris shooting scene the day after. (Photo by Maya-Anais Yataghene via wikipedia)

Paris shooting scene the day after.
(Photo by Maya-Anais Yataghene via wikipedia)

French and European authorities today (November 19) confirmed that the suspected ringleader of last week’s terror attacks in Paris was killed in a gun battle with police and soldiers in a Paris suburb Wednesday, according to media reports including CNN, the Washington Post and BBC.

Meanwhile, as the search continues across Europe for any of the participants or planners of last Friday’s shooting and bombing attacks that killed 129 people, the French Parliament has extended the State of Emergency declared by President Francois Hollande, giving authorities extraordinary powers to search without warrants and detain suspects.

In announcing the death of the suspected ringleader of the Paris attacks, Abdelhamid Abaaoud, French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said it was “urgent,” that Europe should come together to defend itself, according to the BBC. Also urgent, Cazeneuve said, was the need for “a European plan” to reinforce and consolidate borders.

The minister said the body of Abaaoud, a Belgian national of Moroccan descent, was identified by fingerprints. He did not give many details — including how the suspect was killed during the seven-hour siege: in a shootout with police or by blowing himself up.

Early Wednesday (November 18),  police raided two apartments in a northern Parisian suburb. A suicide bomber blew herself up and a police sniper took out a second terror suspect after authorities stormed the apartments and a church in Saint-Denis, the suburb where one of last week’s deadly terrorist attacks occurred, according to CNN.

The raid in Saint-Denis, home to the Stade de France arena that was hit by three suicide bombers Friday (November 13), targeted a suspected mastermind of the attacks, Abdelhamid Abaaoud, though authorities weren’t certain he was at any of the locations, a senior Belgian counterterrorism official told CNN.

Police sources say, however, the raid was well-timed because the suspects were “about to move on some kind of operation.”

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New York City Threatened.

Meanwhile, the self-proclaimed Islamic State — which is taking credit for the attacks in Paris that killed 129 — has released a video warning that New York City is the extremist terror group’s next target.

But city officials say there is no “specific and credible threat,” Reuters reported. New York Police Commissioner William Bratton said there was nothing new about the video, which he called “hastily produced.” Bratton and New York Mayor Bill de Blasio held a joint news conference Wednesday (November 18) in Times Square to calm fears in the largest U.S. city, where more than 2,000 people were killed in the 9/11 terror attacks at the World Trade Center.

“There is no credible and specific threat against New York City,” de Blasio said, encouraging New Yorkers to “go about their business” as normal, while remaining watchful.

ISIS also appeared to threaten an attack on Washington D.C., and any country launching air strikes on Syria, in a new video from the terror group that surfaced online Monday (November 16).

The six-minute video clip comes a day after France launched a series of airstrikes on Raqqa, the Islamic State’s capital in Syria, the New York Daily News reports. Twelve French aircraft dropped at least 20 bombs over jihadi training camps during an evening assault.

France had been bombing ISIS targets in Syria and Iraq for months already, but the new strikes showed a severe escalation of force responding to the massacre that French President Francois Hollande has called “an act of war.”

French President Francois Hollande State Chancellery of (Latvia photo via wikipedia)

French President Francois Hollande
State Chancellery of (Latvia photo via wikipedia)

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Hollande Outlines French Response.

Speaking to a gathering of the nation’s mayors in Paris Wednesday (November 18) French President Hollande to increase French border security with the creation of 5,000 new police posts; 1,000 new customs and border guards and 2,500 new justice officials.

Hollande also said that more than 9,000 army positions, that were to have been scrapped will not be eliminated, according to the BBC.

November 19, 2015 at 12:53 am Leave a comment


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